IoT and Stores: From In-Line to No Line

Kevin Schaff of Twyst

Imagine walking into on of your favorite stores, getting a special offer just for you, choosing your items, and then walking out. No line, no checkout, just a wireless, effortless, and secure transaction that automatically charges you for the items in your bag. That’s the not-so-distant future of shopping and it’s being implemented right now by innovators like Kevin Schaff, founder and CEO of IoT start-up Twyst.

Here’s how it works. Upon entering, you’re greeted with a push notification on your smartphone asking if you’d like to try the Twyst Smart Bag. The bag is equipped with Bluetooth and simply by touching your phone to the bag, you’ll receive a prompt to pair the devices. Once your in-store and digital shopping experiences are linked, all you have to do is shop. That’s how Twyst is transforming brick-and-mortar retail. In 2015, Schaff, drawing on his background in data analytics, had the idea to eliminate points of friction in retail, like the checkout line, and to capture in-store behavior and turn it into actionable data.

My background is in software. Hardware is complicated.
Kevin Schaff, Founder and CEO, Twyst


IoT and Stores: Partner Avnet

hen he met Avnet business development manager Eric Leahy and was introduced to the Avnet Innovation Lab at Arizona State University. The Innovation Lab was conceived to help aspiring entrepreneurs, like Schaff, to advance their ideas and bring them to market. Leahy was immediately impressed with Schaff’s concept and saw the potential in Twyst. Through the lab, he was able to connect Schaff with all the resources he needed: technical support, mentorship and design, manufacturing and marketing expertise. “Kevin is an amazing guy. He knew that friction within the retail space was a problem. For customers, it’s waiting in lines; for retailers, it’s trying to understand why people abandon carts. He understood the problem, just not the best way to solve it,” recalled Leahy. Schaff also knew that radio frequency identification (RFID) tags were al-ready in most products for shipping purposes and that he could leverage them inside a store. Leahy and Avnet then helped him architect an IoT product from the ground up.

IoT and Stores - From In-Line to No Line - Twyst

A Better Bag: Twyst turns a shopper’s bag into a smart shopping assistant.

Twyst’s smart bag (or any shopping container, such as a cart) is designed to detect an item’s presence and transmit data via a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) network. Leahy helped Schaff choose and source the right technology – the microprocessor, RFID reader and sensors that go in the bag, and the beacons that work throughout the store – to produce and refine early prototypes. “My background is software. That’s true for most IoT entrepreneurs”, explained Schaff. “Hardware is complicated, you can lose your market position and momentum if you design it wrong. The ability to work with Eric and get his guidance and expertise was a huge benefit.” Working with Avnet opened doors for Twyst beyond design and supply chain support. Avnet also gave Twyst invaluable exposure to retailers and prospective customers during Denver Startup Week and IoT World.

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